This Sunday, November 6th, at 2:00am, the clocks will fall back. You'll get one extra hour in REM heaven, and one more hour before you begin the daily grind. Amazing, right?
Your dog might not feel the same way.
Though it’s not something most pet parents think about, the end of Daylight Savings might affect your pup. Read on to learn how falling back impacts your pooch, and what you can do to help.
Your Dog Doesn’t Know the Clock Is Changing
As obvious as it sounds, keep in mind: Your dog has no idea that Daylight Savings Time is a thing, let alone that it’s about to end. Unless your pupper is the undisputed Einstein of the canine kingdom, they don’t know how to read a clock, a watch, or a smartphone screen. (Actually, dogs may be better at smelling time than seeing it.)
So unlike you, your dog isn’t prepared for all the changes that are about to take place. Very soon your furry friend will be taking walks, going potty, and scarfing down food up to an hour later. And unless you work from home, they’ll probably be greeting you later in the evening than they’re used to.
Maybe these changes will roll right off your pup’s fur. But some dogs are more tied to their daily routines, or simply more anxious, than others. For these dogs, a one-hour change can be a bigger deal than you’d think.
Why One Hour Makes a Difference
Just like humans, dogs and other animals have what’s called a circadian rhythm — a 24-hour internal process that regulates waking and sleeping. If you disturb your dog’s circadian rhythm, they may not be able to adjust to their new schedule right away. Indeed, they may find that this measly one-hour time change has disrupted all of their daily routines.
Doing Their Business
For some pups, going potty an hour later will be no sweat. But some dogs may be more emotionally attached to their schedule as they knew it, while others might just have a tough time holding it in for another hour. So don’t be surprised to find your furry friend whining by the side of your bed, impatiently awaiting a leash and an open door.
In fact, you might even encounter an unwelcome puddle on the rug. But at least you’ll have an extra hour of sleep before you have to deal with it.
If your dog is used to eating at a particular time of day, delaying their meal could lead to deep disappointment. Don’t be shocked if your hungry pup gets huffy, chewing inappropriate items or whining and barking.
Hm. Maybe you won’t get an extra hour of sleep after all.
Waiting for Their Best Friend
Your dog might not know how to read a clock, but they can definitely tell light from dark. And if you work outside the house, you’ll now be getting home an hour further into Earth’s rotation.
So if your dog is used to greeting you while there's still some light in the sky, they might experience a flurry of anxiety when darkness starts arriving before you do. And along with that spike of separation anxiety can come the kind of sustained barking that irritates your neighbors, or scratching and chewing of walls and furniture.
Even if things don’t get all that bad, you may find your furry friend in a state of attention-starved frenzy by the time you get home.
How You Can Help
There are several things you can do to ease the transition.
Start Adjusting Your Dog's Schedule
Before the clock falls back, start nudging your dog’s schedule forward. Feed and walk your pup just a few minutes later than usual, then another few minutes later the next day, and so on. That’ll help get them ready for the transition to Standard Time.
Oh, and just because you can get an extra hour of sleep doesn’t mean you have to. Until your dog is done adjusting, you can continue getting up a little early to make things easier for them. (No doubt it would be a heartbreaking sacrifice. The things we do for our four-legged friends.)
Adjust Your Own Schedule, Too
Over the next few days, consider arriving home just a few minutes later than usual. Hang around the office for an extra few minutes or stop and buy some milk at the store — whatever gets you home when there's a bit less sun still clinging to the horizon. Your pup will start learning to expect you home a little later.
Give Your Dog Extra Love
Keep a close eye on your pup’s demeanor and general behavior. If they seem to be adjusting nicely, you may not have much to worry about.
But if your dog is barking or whining more than usual, or if they’re doing their business indoors, it’s possible they may need extra love and attention. So play with them, cuddle with them, and bring extra treats on all your walks; it may help calm them down as they get used to their new schedule.
Good luck — and enjoy the extra sleep if you can get it.